<br /> Lee Letter: n448

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Brother,

The Marquis Fayette left us to day for Boston where he is to embark. This
letter will follow him with our dispatches. I wish that a true
friendship may take place between you and the Marquis, because I
discern in this young Nobleman those principles that I think cannot
fail to render him a great Man. And his virtue is such as will make him
superior to all those mean and selfish considerations which mark too
many. The {disgusting arrogance?}1 of our
{enemie} s is such as {require}s on our {part} the greatest {
circumspection}. Even {virtue}t will not do alone, the strictest
{appearance} must accompany this, where enemies are numerous, wicked,
and inquisitive, and where the most laudable actions may be
misinterpreted, and by the artful mixture of innocent truth with much
falsehood, can impose on weak minds and such as are more than half
willing to be imposed on, infinite care is necessary. I am much
mistaken if your honest zeal in your Countries cause concerning the
{unexecuted article}s of the {treaty} will not be diligently both
from {hence} and with {you} be used to {ruin} you with the {court} of F – e2 Will it not be well, besides
taking other wise precautions, to speak to the
{minister}3 with the candor, firmness, and
sincerity, on this subject, that becomes a Man concerned in the
wellfare of his Country? The whole tribe of wicked ones at Passy and
all their Coadjutors will be employed in this nefarious business??But a
sensible and virtuous Minister will esteem the integrity of a Man who
faithfully discharges his trust by seeing and pursuing the interest of
his Country, in the Station you have been in. The wickedness of Deane
and his party exceeds all belief, and must in the end fail them
notwithstanding the Art with which they clothe themselves. The wicked
and some weak can alone support them No Man knows better than Deane how
to avail himself of the glare cast around him by the favor of the
Great, which mere circumstances, not his merit or his virtue have
procured him. This Wretch would rise upon the ruin of the first, the
firmest, and most uniform friends of this Country and of France. But I
trust all his Manoeuvres will fail him. If you have time it may be well
to give his papers to Congress, which are now sent
you,4 a well considered and well established
refutation – I can detect, as I read it, numerous falsehoods and

Give my respects to Mr. Izard and tell him I greatly admire his spirit and
good sense. Remember what I have written you about Ludwell, my bark,
& Spectacles. Let the Alderman know that his affairs at Green
Spring are under the care of an Able Stewart.

I am most sincerely and affectionately yours,

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. I hope our affairs in Spain have eer this had taken so favorable a
turn that you will be presently repairing to that Court. The affairs of
finance have, with other adventitious business, so engrossed us, that
we have not yet been able to take up our foreign Affairs, which will
presently be done upon a large Scale. I am going to Virginia in a few
days, and expect our brother Frank here to take my place.

R.H.L –


Receiver’s copy, Morristown National Historical Park. Another copy is in the Lee Papers, Virginia Historical Society.

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 445 – 46.

1 Words printed in braces in this text were written by Lee in cipher.

2 That is, France. For evidence that Arthur Lee’s standing at the French
court was indeed being undermined “from hence,” see Conrad Alexandre
Gérard’s 17 October 1778, letter to Vergennes in Gérard, Dispatches
(Baisnee and Meng), 58:303.

3 That is, the comte de Vergennes, French minister for foreign affairs.

4 See Committee for Foreign Affairs to Arthur Lee, 29 October 1778.